Farm Ireland

Sunday 25 February 2018

IFA calls for end to fertiliser 'cartels'

IFA National Chairman Jer Bergin Photo: Finbarr O'Rourke
IFA National Chairman Jer Bergin Photo: Finbarr O'Rourke

Trade barriers and import duties in Europe's fertiliser industry are costing farmers nearly €1billion, an IFA-commissioned report has concluded.

The report from the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) states that "with the protection of the fertiliser sector the European Union protects local fertiliser firms to the detriment of other producers, ie farmers and food sector companies."

The IFPRI report asks "whether the application of anti-dumping and customs duties on some non-EU origin fertilisers has put EU grain producers at a significant competitive disadvantage as their main competitors (in the Ukraine and Russia) have access to cheaper fertiliser."

The report also finds that 'price fixing and cartels might be operating in the highly-concentrated markets such as Western Europe and calls for the need to further examine pricing behaviour and potential market power exertion in the industry'.

An IFA delegation led by national chairman Jer Bergin met the EU Commissioner Phil Hogan yesterday to present the report to him and to discuss the income crisis in the sector.


"Fertiliser is the second biggest expenditure for Irish farmers with an annual spend of over €500m and the Commission must take action as family farm incomes are on the floor," said Jer Bergin.

It is clear from the data collected that Europe's market is not functioning as the duties and tariffs protect European manufacturers at the expense of farm families."

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IFA Inputs Project Team Leader James McCarthy, who spearheaded the campaign for the abolition of the duties and tariffs, said: "The ongoing concentration of Europe's fertiliser manufacturing industry has seen farmgate fertiliser prices increase at an unjustified rate relative to other input costs.

"The industry historically blamed the disparity on rising energy costs. However, the steep fall in energy prices over the last two years has not been reflected in retail fertiliser prices to the primary producer."

Figures from the CSO have shown that fertiliser prices here rose at twice the rate of other farm input prices from 2005 to 2014.

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